Basket makers exempt from PGA zoning permits

By Stefanie

JOHNS ISLAND, S.C. (WCIV) -- Betsy Kerrison Parkway is seeing a lot of action this week. The road on the way to Kiawah Island and the PGA Championship is facing a slew of pop-up businesses, tents, and signs put up by people trying to make a quick buck off the influx of people.

PGA officials estimate about 50,000 visitors from out of town are converging to the area for the big event, with a max of 30,000 people a day coming out for the tournament at The Ocean Course.

With all the attention in one area, one can understand why sweet grass basket maker Betsy Frasier has set up her shop on{}Betsy Kerrison Parkway{}early.

"I feel that will bring me great profit to this area," said Betsy Frasier. " A load of people is here and I am just hoping through Jesus Christ that they stop here and buy a basket from me."

Frasier has a handicap, as they say in the game of golf. Sweet grass basket makers are exempt from having to have Charleston County permits to conduct their business on the road.

"Wonderful, I feel great knowing I have the privilege to do that," Frasier said.

But others are not as lucky. Director of Zoning and Planning for Charleston County, Dan Pennick, said his department has had to take down illegal signs and pop-up businesses on the road to Kiawah.

"If someone wants to put up a sign or start a business, do it right. Call us first and we will help you out and start the process," Dan Pennick said. "The only exception is sweet grass basket stands; that's part of our culture that they are exempt from the regulations."

Code enforcement will be out patrolling the area and Pennick said the biggest reason for the patrols is because of resident complaints.

"The whole point of it is to protect the legitimate business; the person who really went through the process and got all the permits, followed the laws," Pennick said.

The PGA and businesses such as Freshfields started their permit process two years ago for all their special events in order to follow Charleston County zoning laws, according to Pennick.

"It's unfortunate, a lot of people are waiting till the last minute," said Pennick. "The PGA actually starts tomorrow with the first round and I think it is a little too late this year to get a permit."